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English Phrasal Verbs | Form, Meaning, Grammar and Style


In this lesson you will learn the form, meaning, and examples of a phrasal verb

|Phrasal Verbs ||

Form, Meaning, Grammar and Style



Phrasal verbs are part of a large group of verbs called 'multi-word verbs'. Phrasal verbs and other multi-word verbs are an important part of the English language.

Multi-word verbs, including phrasal verbs, are very common, especially in spoken English. A multi-word verb is a verb like 'pick up', 'turn on' or 'get on with'.

For convenience, many people refer to all multi-word verbs as phrasal verbs. These verbs consist of a basic verb + another word or words. The other word(s) can be prepositions and/or adverbs. The two or three words that make up multi-word verbs form a short 'phrase', which is why these verbs are often all called 'phrasal verbs'.


Formation



A phrasal verb is a verb combined with an adverb or preposition, and occasionally with an adverb and preposition.


— The price of petrol may go up (= increase) again next week.

— He fell over (= fell to the ground) when he was running for the bus.

— She's promised to find out (= learn/discover) the name of that new hotel.

— Who is going to look after (= take care of) the children when she goes into hospital?

— If you don't understand the meaning, you can look it up (= find the meaning in a book - in this case a dictionary).

— He doesn't get on with (= have a good relationship with) his parents. (verb + adv + prep)


Meaning


In this lesson you will learn the form, meaning, and examples of a phrasal verb


Sometimes the meaning of a phrasal verb is very similar to the base verb, and the adverb just emphasises the meaning of the base verb, e.g. stand up, wake up, save up, huffy up, sit down, lie down and send off (e.g. a letter). 

On other occasions, the adverb adds the idea of completing the action of the verb, e.g. drink up (= finish your drink), eat up (= finish eating), finish off.

But more often, the meaning of a phrasal verb is very different from the base verb, e.g. go up doesn't mean the same as go; look after is different from look; and look after is also quite different from look up. An adverb or preposition can therefore change the meaning of a verb.


Here are some more examples of this type of phrasal verb:

—It took her a long time to get over (= get better / recover from) her illness.

—He told me to carry on (= continue) as far as the traffic lights.

—I persuaded my wife to give up (= stop) smoking.

—I can't make any sandwiches because we've run out of bread. (= the bread is finished / all used, so we have no bread)

—In the end, my next-door neighbour had to come and put out (= extinguish/stop) the fire.


Multiple Meaning


In this lesson you will learn the form, meaning, and examples of a phrasal verb

Many phrasal verbs have more than one meaning, so you must be careful when you see a phrasal verb you think you know, or look up the meaning in a dictionary. In the examples marked *, the phrasal verb is much more natural than the explanation in brackets. 


—It was hot so I decided to *take off (= remove) my jacket.

—I am always nervous when the plane *takes off (= leaves the ground).

—I don't think I'll get through (= finish) this report before five o'clock.

—I think she'll get through (= pass) the exam.

—I *picked up the rubbish (= took it from the ground or sues place) and put it in the bin.

—I had to go to the shop to pick up (= collect) my photos.

—My alarm clock didn't go off (= ring) this morning.

—The bomb could go off (= explode) at any minute.

—The fish will *go off (= go bad) if you don't put it in the fridge.


Grammar: Intransitive verbs



Some phrasal verbs are intransitive and do not need a direct object.


—The children are growing up. (= getting older and more mature)

—The doctor told on to lie down on the bed.

—Don't wait out there. Please come in. (= enter)

—I'm going to stay in (= stay at home) this evening.

With these verbs, you cannot put another word between the verb and adverb.


Grammar: Transitive verbs



Many phrasal verbs are transitive and do need a direct object. With some of these, you can put the object between the verb and adverb.


Put on your shoes - or - Put your shoes on

Turn on the TV - or -Turn the TV on


If the object is a pronoun, it must go between verb and adverb.


Put them on - not - Put on thern

Turn it on - not - Turn on it


Note: A dictionary will show you if you can put a word between the verb and adverb.


Style: Formal or Informal



Some phrasal verbs can be used equally in written or spoken English. Sometimes this is because there is no other easy way to express the meaning of the phrasal verb.


—I always wake up early, even at weekends.

—The car broke down (= went wrong; stopped working) on the motonrway.

—The plane couldn't take off because of bad weather.

—Thieves broke into (= entered by force and illegally) the house and took money, credit cards and all my jewellery.


Informal phrasal verbs



Most phrasal verbs are informal and are more common in spoken English. In written English there is often a more formal word with the same meaning.


—We had to make up a story. (= invent/create from our imagination)

—I can usually get by on about $200o week. (= manage)

—You can leave out question 7. (= omit, i.e. you don't need to do question 7)

—They've got a problem and they asked me to sort it out. (= resolve (it) / find a solution ( do something about it)



Examples of phrasal verbs


In this lesson you will learn the form, meaning, and examples of a phrasal verb

These are some of the phrasal verbs:

Account for = explain
Example: They had to account for all the money that had gone

Act on = take action because of something like information received
Example: The police were acting on a tip from an informer and caught the gang red-handed.

Aim at = target
Example: The magazine is aimed at teenagers.

Answer back = reply rudely to someone in authority
Example: Her mother was shocked when she started answering her back and refusing to help.

Ask for = provoke a negative reaction
Example: You're asking for trouble.

Ask in = invite somebody into your house
Example: Jon's at the door. Ask him in.

Ask out = invite someone for a date
Example: He wanted to ask her out but was too shy.

You can read more in this lesson : List of 700 Phrasal verbs explained with examples 


The important thing to remember is that a multi-word verb is still a verb. 'Get' is a verb. 'Get up', is also a verb, a different verb, but 'get' and 'get up'  do not have the same meaning. So you should treat each multi-word verb as a separate verb and learn it like any other verb.


Watch more about phrasal verbs


This is a beautiful video by Emma the owner of mmmEnglish youtube channel, in which she explains these points:

—What exactly is a Phrasal Verb?

—Is it transitive or intransitive?

—Is it separable or inseparable?

—How to find the right phrasal verbs to practice?




Enjoy watching!

Take this quiz



Test your knowledge now by passing the test below:



Exercises


Fill the gaps to complete the phrasal verb in each sentence.



1. We went round the school and .................... up all the rubbish.

2. I don't think they ever..........................out hose the man escaped.

3. This milk smells horrible; I think it has .........................off.

4. Do you think they'll ................. through the exam next week?

5. They had a bad relationship at first, but she ................on very well with him now.

6. The price has................................up three times this year.

7. I agreed to ................ after my sister's cat when she goes to France.

8. We can ................ on until the teacher tells us to stop.

9. Why didn't your alarm clock...................off this morning?

10. I'm afraid this photocopier has ................ out of paper, but you can use the other one in my office.


Complete these sentences in a logical way.



1. It will take her a long time to get over ..............................

2. I'm afraid we've run out of ..............................

3. He had to look it up ..............................

4. I don't really get on with ..............................

5. She came in and took off  ..............................

6. I had to put out ..............................

7. Who is going to look after ..............................

8. I went to the garage to pick up ..............................

9. The plane took off ..............................

10. My rent is going up ..............................



 Complete these sentences in a logical way.



 1. I'm not very good at making up  ..............................

 2. Could you lie down ..............................

 3. She asked me to turn on ..............................

 4. Two men tried to break into ..............................

 5. We have asked an engineer to come and sort out ..............................

 6. Are you going to stay in ..............................

 7. Why did you leave out ..............................

 8. I'm afraid we broke down ..............................

 9. Can you get by ..............................

 10. I grew up ..............................


Is it possible to separate the two parts of the phrasal verb in the sentences below?

Look at the examples first, and use a dictionary to check your answers.



Examples:


—I forgot to get off the bus. NO (get the bus off )
—Why did he take off his trousers? YES (take his trousers off )


1. She decided to carry on working.

2. He had to put out the fire.

3. Could you turn on the radio?

4. I had to lie down for a few minutes.

5. Could you go to the shop for me? We've just run out of coffee.

6. I think she made up that story.

7. I can't get by on the money my parents give me.

8. Children grow up very quickly these days.

9. I turned off the light when I went to bed.

10. Can we leave out this question?



Keywords: English phrasal verbs, Phrasal verbs list, English verbs.

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